Dalton Rapattoni is about to make it big. Well, maybe. Last week, the Dallas-area singer was chosen to be included among the top 14 contestants on the final season of American Idol. Rapattoni, a 20-year-old who hails from Sunnyvale, a small town east of Dallas, is a School of Rock student turned instructor, turned American Idol “Farewell Season” contestant. He has bleached blonde hair and wears eyeliner to make his already piercing eyes pop even more. He wears tight jeans and flower-covered Dr. Martens boots, with a style reminiscent of past rocker-contestant Adam Lambert.
Rapattoni began his Idol journey when he auditioned this past summer in Little Rock. All of the judges were impressed with Rapattoni’s artistry, made apparent by his risky song choice: a chilling, acoustic rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.” Judge Jennifer Lopez even called Rapattoni cute.
Rapattoni sailed smoothly through the feared Hollywood week group and solo rounds, and on to the top 24, where his rendition of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” impressed the judges, especially JLo. This round also included duets with past idol contestants, where Rapattoni was matched up with season five star Chris Daughtry to sing Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” eliciting mixed reviews from the judges.
Rappatoni, who was only 19 when he auditioned, is not a newcomer to music, and this might be what makes him stand out as a contestant. Rapattoni has already been a member of two bands, including the Dallas-based rock band Fly Away Hero, which he co-founded when he was barely a teenager. After releasing two EPs with the band, Rapattoni was discovered by American Idol producer Simon Fuller, who put Rapattoni with other similarly talented teens to form the Los Angeles-based boy band IM5. But Rapattoni couldn’t be away from Texas for long. He stayed with IM5 for a few years before returning to Dallas to reunite with Fly Away Hero.
Rapattoni, like other contestants, is active on social media. He has a bigger Twitter following than his competition, and a quick search of his name on Twitter reveals at least 20 fan accounts (we had to stop counting). Last week, he got himself known as “Salty Dalty” when he failed to follow his fellow contestants in completing Periscope broadcasts during the show. He has since been a bit more active on the live streaming app, revealing in one broadcast that the ring he wears on his finger was made from a Texas State coin.
Though Rapattoni has made it this far, the end of the road could come at any time. American Idol judges will eliminate several contestants Wednesday night. The judges will choose the top four contestants, but here’s the kicker: it’s up to you, the audience, to pick the “wild card” spots to fill out the top 10 this season.
American Idol voting will open Wednesday night after live performances from the top 14. (The show airs on Fox). The winners of the final two spots will be revealed on Thursday. It’s your right as an American Idol viewer and Dallas resident to tune in, and get yourself to the imaginary polls.